Lecture | April 14 | 5-7 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)
Speaker: Osmund Bopearachchi, Director of Research, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris, and the Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley
Moderator: Alexander von Rospatt, Professor for Buddhist and South Asian Studies, and director of the Group in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley
Talk by archaeologist and art historian, Osmund Bopearachchi, Director of Research, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris, and currently the Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley.
Founded in the fourth century BCE by King Pandukabhaya, Anuradhapura remained the capital of the island for almost fifteen centuries, making it one of the most stable and long-lived political and urban centers of South and South-East Asia. As recent archaeological research has shown, Anuradhapura became a flourishing inland capital thanks to its location on the Aruvi Ari River (Malvatu Oya) linking it to Manthai, the most active port in ancient Sri Lanka. The ancient site of Anuradhapura and its surrounding monastic complexes covers an area of over forty square kilometres. There has been much controversy over the focal point of the urban center. According to some historians, the Mahāvihāra, with the scared Bodhi-Tree and the Ruawanvalimahāsaye, was the center of the city and, for others, the fortified citadel. The sacred area, composed of impressive monastic establishments, was much larger than the citadel where the royal palace and the center of administration were presumably situated. Despite several archaeological missions, the carefully planned city and its suburbs described in the Mahāvaṃśa, the great chronicle of the island, remain to be discovered. Aside from the palace built by King Vijayabahu I (circa 1055-1110 CE), neither the ancient palaces of renowned kings nor the administrative buildings have been discovered within the city limits. By contrast, the Buddhist monastic complexes of Mahāvihāra, Jetavanaramavihāra, Abhayagirivihāra, Dakkhinavihāra, and Mirisvativihāra, surrounding the citadel, contain imposing stūpas, bodhigharas (bodhi shrines), paṭimāgharas (image houses),sannipātasālās (assembly halls), danasālās (alms halls) and pancavasas (residences of the monks). This talk will discuss the nature of the physical growth of the city, its legitimacy and authority, and the discrepancies between the archaeological reality and literary evidence.
Osmund Bopearachchi is a Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in its Hellenism and Oriental Civilisations program (UMR 8546/5), and teaches Central Asian and South-Asian archaeology and art history at the Paris IV–Sorbonne University. Professor Bopearachchi holds a BA from the University of Kelaniya (Sri Lanka), a BA honors, (MA), M.Phil., Ph.D from the Paris I-Sorbonne University, and a Higher Doctorate (Habilitation) from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University. He has published nine books, edited six others, and published 130 articles in international journals. Currently the Trung Lam Visiting Scholar in Central Asian Art and Archaeology (2010–2012) at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Bopearachchi is working on a new catalogue of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek Coins, as well as the publication of a selection of hitherto unknown masterpieces from Gandhāra and Greater Gandhāra dispersed in museums and private collections in Japan, Europe, Canada, and the United States of America.